“Robotitis” is acting without feeling and treating others mechanically. In the medical field, you can develop a serious case of the disorder, if you are required to see many patients, are pressured to be efficient and if you must operate within narrow guidelines which prevent you from expressing yourself or recognizing the unqueness of each individual you encounter. When you are asked to act like a machine, you become a machine – without heart and oblivious to the importance of a genuine, interpersonal connection with the patient.

“Robotitis” is soul killing. Mother Theresa said “If you do not love your work, you are a slave.”

Seven effective steps to help you break free of the trap of “robotitis”:

1. Raise your awareness to how mechanical you have become. Look at yourself from a distance to see how others see you.

2. Refresh your perception of the patients by looking for something unique in each one.

3. If you are required to say the same thing to everyone (for standardization's sake) find what you can vary: tone, inflection, smiling, pace for the different listeners, etc.)

4. Observe the patient to see if they understand or are interested to ask a question. Do not assume that if you say it the same way, they all hear it the same way.

5. In the time between patients, do something that breaks the boredom of the repetition.

6. Use humor when you can, with your patients and with your peers.

7. Analyze the tasks of your unit and see where variety can be introduced.

Escaping “robotitis”

• Improvements motivation and morale

• Decreases errors by increasing effective focus

• Improves mood and mindset making you more able to respond to problems

• Increase physical energy (“robotitis” is draining)

• Improves overall job satisfaction

To meet the demands for medical care, physician extenders are necessary and play a vital role. They are often the first contact with the patient and can offer an informal, seemingly social encounter. They may put the patient at ease and set the stage for the mood of the encounter. Kind, direct and personal encounters may communicate that they are in a safe zone. Staff need to care for themselves and refresh them encounterers to produce the best results.

Someone once said: “Habits can be our slaves or our masters.” Get back your sense of well-being and express you caring for patients by avoiding the enslavement of “robotitis”.

Copyright © 2012Ralph Schillace, Ph.D.